50 Top NBA players of 2021: Historical performance has Zion Williamson on the rise(5)

50 best basketball players today in 2021

BEST NBA PLAYERS: The Brooklyn Nets’ acquisition of James Harden earlier in the 2020-21 NBA season added another layer to the super-team era in the Association. They now have three of the top 25 players in the league.

The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers are almost in the same category with two of the top-10 players. These are among the teams with the best chances of winning the title. It’s in this that we look at the 50 best NBA players right now.

50. Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers

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Each time LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers, they have tried to build around a point guard. In 2011, it was Kyrie Irving. This time around, it’s Collin Sexton. Sexton is the clear-cut choice as the Cavaliers’ main building block. No other player is as young (22) or boasts the scoring prowess (23.7 points per game this season) that he does. Could an All-Star appearance be in the cards in the near future?

49. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

Top 50 NBA players, Draymond Green
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Green, 31, seemed to be a shell of his former select during a down 2019-20 season. Apparently, that was due to the Warriors’ lack of standing as a playoff contender, because, he’s turned it around big time this year. While Green is averaging a mere 6.8 points, he’s also averaging 6.3 rebounds and 8.5 assists. The three-time champion is also one of the favorites to win his second NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. It has him as a top-50 NBA player right now.

48. Julius Randle, New York Knicks

Top NBA players Julius Randle
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Thought by some to be a one-dimensional player after the Los Angeles Lakers made him a top-10 pick back in 2014, the 26-year-old Randle has morphed into an elite-level all-around player for the improved Knicks. Earning his first All-Star appearance this season, the forward is averaging 23.0 points, 11.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists on 48% shooting from the field. Those are some tremendous numbers.

47. Christian Wood, center, Houston Rockets

Top NBA players: Christian Wood, Rockets
Dec 28, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Houston Rockets forward Christian Wood (35) shoots the ball in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most-underrated acquisitions during the NBA offseason, Wood has proven to be a godsend for a Rockets team that will now have to find an identity in the post-Harden era. The former undrafted free agent from UNLV is averaging 21.9 points and 10.2 rebounds while shooting a ridiculous 56% from the field.

46. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors

Kyle Lowry, #30 Best NBA Players in 2020
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Taking a back seat to Kawhi Leonard in 2018-19, Lowry saw his scoring numbers (14.2) fall to the second-lowest since 2013 (11.6). But with Leonard taking his talents to Southern California, the 33-year-old Lowry and Pascal Siakam comprised a de facto 1-2 punch for a struggling Raptors squad. Despite said struggles, Lowry is still averaging 17.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 7.5 assists. The question now becomes whether he’s headed out of town here soon.

45. Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet
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In free agency, VanVleet returned to the Raptors for this season and beyond, inking the most lucrative contract ever for an undrafted player. The 27-year-old has morphed into an absolute star since being completely overlooked as a draft prospect out of Wichita State. VanVleet is averaging 19.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 6.5 assists. Unfortunately, he’s shooting a disastrous 39% from the field this season. That drops the smallish guard down some in our most-recent rankings.

44. Jerami Grant, forward, Detroit Pistons

Top NBA Players: Jerami Grant, Pistons
Jan 25, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant (9) is defended by Philadelphia 76ers guard Seth Curry (31) in the second half at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in the offseason, Grant is playing at a much higher level than anyone expected for the NBA’s worst team. The former second-round pick is averaging a resounding 23.4 points to go with 5.1 rebounds on 36% shooting from distance. Still only 27, the sky seems to be the limit for this all-around player.

43. Gordon Hayward, forward, Charlotte Hornets

Top NBA players: Gordon Hayward, Hornets
Jan 11, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard forward Gordon Hayward (20) controls the ball while defended by New York Knicks guard Austin Rivers (8) during the second half at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Hayward’s injury issues are by now well known. He missed all but one game of his first season with the Boston Celtics back in 2017-18 due to a horrible leg injury. Even last season, it did not appear that the former All-Star was back to 100%. That has not been the case thus far in 2020-21 after Charlotte inked him to a massive contract. Hayward, 30, is averaging 20.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists on 48% shooting and is in the midst of a career season.

42. LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets

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Feb 24, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges (0) with guard LaMelo Ball (2) and center Bismack Biyombo (8) against the Phoenix Suns at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Shocking. That has to be the best way to describe Ball’s ascension into the top-50. The rookie No. 3 pick is having one of the best initial seasons in modern NBA history. That’s not hyperbole. Ball, 19, is averaging 19.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.4 assists on 43% shooting since taking over starting duties back on Feb. 1. He’s also a solid defender and has found some tremendous range (38% shooting from distance this season).

41. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

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An amazing defensive player, the “Stifle Tower” has shown that he can stop almost anyone at the rim. His offense needs work if he is to stay on the court against smaller, faster teams. But as long as he plays his role, he’ll be fine. After inking an extension with Utah during the offseason, Gobert is averaging another double-double at 14.5 points and 13.5 rebounds while averaging 2.9 blocks per outing.